Today in History: August 21

Today is not the 175th birthday of the Venetian blind, but it is the 175th anniversary of John Hampson’s patent, “Manner of retaining in any desired position the slats of Venetian blinds” (Patent 2223). The inventor, who was based in New Orleans, developed a tool for holding the slats in place—which we still see in use in today’s blinds in the use of a rod to twist the slats to any desired angle.

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And more in Inventions Today: William Seward Burroughs I was awarded four patents on this date for his “Calculating-machine,” the invention of that led to his company, the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. (A model from the 1890s, above.)

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The Cleveland Indians traded Shoeless Joe Jackson to the Chicago White Sox on this date in 1915 for Ed Klepfer, Braggo Roth, a player to be named later, and $31,500.

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Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago, arrived in Money, Mississippi, on this date in 1955.

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The next total solar eclipse that will be visible in North America will be on this date in 2017.

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Leon Trotsky was assassinated on this date in 1940.

Sobhuza II, who had the longest verifiable reign of any monarch in history, 82 years, died on this date in 1982. He was the king of Swaziland from 1899 till his death. (He became king as an infant, when his father died suddenly, during a ceremony.)

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Count Basie was born on this date in 1904. Friz Freleng was born on this date in 1906. Christopher Robin Milne was born on this date in 1920. (His father, A. A. Milne, immortalized him in his stories about Winnie-the-Pooh.) Jack Buck was born on this date in 1924. Wilt Chamberlain was born on this date in 1936. Robert Stone was born on this date in 1937. Joe Strummer was born on this date in 1952. Stéphane Charbonnier was born 49 years ago today.

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Thomas S. Monson is 89. Kenny Rogers is 78. Peter Weir is 72. Rev. Ivan Stang is 63. Kim Cattrall is 60 today. Carrie-Anne Moss is 49. Sergey Brin is 43. Alicia Witt is 41. Kelis is 37. Usain Bolt is 30.

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